ANDOVER — What started as a Bible study in area homes has grown into a congregation that offers ministries to children, adults, supports missionaries in the U.S. and abroad.
This is New England Bible Church, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary today and tomorrow under the theme, “Remember the works of the Lord,” from Psalm 77:11. “The reason it has done so well is because God is in it,” said the Rev. Tyler Thompson, pastor. “Jesus said, ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.”
The church at 60 Chandler Road is hosting a picnic and reunion with several of the original members who met in the late 1970s and 1980s. During the 10 a.m. worship service tomorrow, charter members will tell the history of the church and Thompson will deliver the message. A reception follows featuring a PowerPoint presentation with photographs and memorabilia from 1982 to the present.
New England Bible began in 1982 by Tyler’s father, the Rev. Chip Thompson, as an independent non-denominational church. The older Thompson is now in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Before the church was built, services were held at an apartment club house, a function hall and restored mill buildings. The church fought a three-year battle in Land Court to get permission to build a church at 60 Chandler Road in 1993. They purchased the 11 acres of land for $150,000. Members and supporters donated $500,000 needed to clear the land, build a road and complete the site work. Another $540,000 was raised through church bonds for building costs.
Thompson considers building the church as one of the congregation’s highlight.
“For so long we were a church without a building and we wanted a place to call home,” he said.
But Thompson considers the church more than the building.
“A big highlight are the miracles God has done in the lives of people. We’ve seen troubled mariages that have been restored; kids raised in homes where God was the center of; members who have become ministers and missionaries and donating to missionary work,” Thompson said.
A recent ministry is a partnership New England Bible formed in Matochos, Guatemala, a town of 3,000 residents in the Central American country. Thompson along with 13 adults and teenagers spent several days in Guatemala getting acquainted with the townspeople. The missionaries did construction at the school, expanded the kitchen, did some painting and cleaning. They also met with church leaders.
Thompson said another reason the church has flourished is because it has met the spiritual needs of people in the Merrimack Valley.
“They have found God and connected with Jesus Christ. We’ve seen so many stories of redemtption. People who were lost, hopeless and helpless, were able to find new life in Christ and turn their lives around.” In addition to the traditional worship service, New England Bible is also using social media to do outreach including the Internet, Facebook, and weekly email updates.
Thompson has a blog, as does youth pastor Matt Lourdeau.
“We’re doing our best to get as much exposure as we can by using the Internet, Facebook and weekly email updates and they are helping,” he said.
Before following in his father’s footsteps, Thompson was a school teacher and coach. He graduated from Cedarville University in Ohio.
Before serving as senior pastor, he spent eight years as youth pastor alongside his father.
“Dad inspired me. Him and my mom raised me to be a good man but never forced me or made me feel that I had to go into the ministry. I think that because he didn’t force me was what attracted me,” Thompson said.
Thompson and his wife, Leslie, have four children.
At New England Bible Church, Thompson is assisted by Matthew Lourdeau as Youth Pastor and Pastor Paul Zagrobski, assistant pastor since September 1996. In addition to teaching and preaching at NEBC, Paul oversees the visitation, discipleship and small group ministries.
Aldersgate United Methodist, 235 Park St., North Reading: The Spiritual Growth Committee is sponsoring a mini-retreat, “Nurturing your Spirituality in the Midst of a Busy Life,” Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Retreat leader, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Good, is an ordained United Methodist pastor.
All Saints, 120 Bellevue Ave., Haverhill: St. Anthony’s fall devotion, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. beginning with the rosary at 6 p.m., followed by devotions at 6:20 p.m.
Central Congregational, 14 Crescent St., Derry: Big City Studies a Bible-based children’s church for ages 4-11 is held Sundays at 10 a.m. Nancy Ferrin leads a Bible study on the book of Philippians, Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.
Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover: Monday night prayer group meets Sept. 10 7-8:30 p.m. to listen to each other and God through silence, centering prayer and compline. Bible study on the Book of Acts meets Tuesday 2-3:15 p.m. A service of reflection, music and silence in different styles is on the third Sunday of the month. On Sept. 16, there will be Eucharist with music by Chris Payne-TaylorDavid Pike and Greg Bover of the CB Fisk Organ Co. in Gloucester lead an organ presentation and demonstration of the Opus 137 organ the company built for the church, Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m. An inaugural organ recital is at 7 p.m. with organist Barbara Bruns. Gala reception follows.
Faith Lutheran, 360 S. Main St., Andover: The A-Z Festival fundraiser for the church’s ministry in Zimbabwe is Sept. 9 beginning at 8:30 a.m. with music, dancing, games and food. The Andover to Zimbabwe mission has helped residents of Rwehanga build a grinding mill, a meeting house, cookhouse, chicken farm as well as repairs to the school and church. Proceeds this year will go toward more repairs to the school and help villagers get food and medical care. First Church Congregational, 26 Pleasant St., Methuen: Music director Paul Webster Dean produces and directs “A Man and His Music, John Rutter,” Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. The music festival features the voices of choral societies, church choirs and community singing groups. Free. The Women’s spiritual book club meets Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. They will watch a video based on the book, “In My Seat,” by the American Airlines pilot who was originally scheduled to fly Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11.
Immaculate Conception, Newburyport: Pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bosnia Hercegovina, on Oct. 11-20, where Our Lady has reportedly been appearing. Cost is $2,499 and includes airfare, housing, breakfast, dinner daily, and taxes. Space is limited and reservations can be made by contacting Shirley at 978 465-8495.
Our Lady of Good Counsel at St. Theresa Church, 22 Plymouth St., Methuen: Eileen Hiatt of Merrimack Valley Elder Services discusses diabetes self-management on Monday noon to 2 p.m. This is part of the parish’s luncheon speaker series. Reservations can be made by tomorrow by calling Kathy at 978-685-6908.
Sacred Hearts, South Main St., Bradford: Mass of installation for the Rev. John Delaney is Sept. 23 at 11:30 a.m. Church. Picnic follows.
St. Andrew Episcopal, 90 Broadway, Methuen: Krista McLeod leads the church book club “People of the Book,” by Geraldine Brooks, Sept. 26, 6:30 p.m. After worship services on Nov. 4, the group discusses “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” by Rabbi Harold Kushner.
St. Anne, 26 Emerson Ave., Hampstead: Bible study and praying with the scriptures Fridays at 7 p.m. “Seeking Christ, an introduction to Jesus and the Catholic Church is an eight-week program for non Catholics but want to know more about the Catholic Church, beginning Sept. 11 to Nov. 6. The Rev. Bill Gaffney, a Redemptorist missionary and Gloria Anson, president of the Sacred Heart Apostolate lead a mission Sept. 23-27, 7-8:30 p.m. focusing on bringing peace, love, forgiveness and reconciliation into the home. Gaffney will celebrate Mass daily at 9:15 a.m. St. Augustine, 43 Essex St., Andover: Registrations are being taken for adult scripture study on the third week of September. Participants will have the option of studying the book of Roman, Tuesdays 1-2:30 p.m. or Wednesdays 7-8:30 p.m. or the Gospel of John, Tuesdays 9:30-11 a.m. Deborah Scionti, director of spiritual care at Mary Immaculate Health Care Services is guest speaker at the ninth annual interfaith prayer shawl tea, Sept. 18, 2-3:30 in the parish’s Center for Education and Ministry. Several churches throughout the area host prayer shawl ministries under the auspices of Communities Together. At the tea, clergy will bless the shawls and participants will hear testimonies from knitters and recipients. Meeting Christ in Prayer meeting, an eight-week guided prayer experience based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius is Wednesdays 7-8:15 p.m., Sept. 19 to Nov. 7. St. Basil Salvatorian Center, 30 East St., Methuen: Monday liturgy on Sept. 10 is for the intention is for the souls of loved ones who have taken their lives and for their families. The Holy Liturgy on Sept. 17 is for all loved ones who have died in an accident or short or sudden illness and for their families. San Damiano House of Prayer, 333 Pawtucket St., Lowell: Spiritual retreat for parents who have the death of a child of any age and by any cause is Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. St. John the Baptist, 110 Lincoln Ave., Haverhill: Members of the Marian Society devoted to Our Lady of Fatima pray the Rosary Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m.
St. Jude, Mammoth Road, Londonderry: The parish will off offer sacramental preparation classes for adults with special needs, Wednesdays beginning Sept. 19, 7-8:15 p.m. For information, contact Trish.
St. Lucy, Merrimack St., Methuen: Sunday evening youth Masses with the Rev. Richard Burton and Bernie Clohisie begins tomorrow at 5 p.m. Bible study featuring Rachel Voiland “Themes in Scripture” will be held Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings beginning in October.
St. Luke the Evangelist, 8 Atkinson Depot Road, Plaistow: Members of the Women’s Guild will have an organizational meeting Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. For the past 14 years, their main goal is to provide mercy meals for bereaved families. The group also hosts an annual luncheon for the ladies of Plaistow Baptist Church and the Haverhill Chapter of the Blind.
St. Mark the Evangelist, 1 South Road, Londonderry: Members of the Men of Joseph meet Sept. 15 at 7 a.m. for fellowship, food and prayers.
Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish, 40 Main St., Salem: The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, will be offered Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 16 through Easter.
St. Matthew, 2 Searles Road, Windham: Feast of St. Matthew fifth annual parish picnic, Sept. 23 from 12:30 to 3 p.m. featuring food, games, crafts, live music.
St. Patrick, 12 Main St., Pelham: Bible study on the gospel of Luke is Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 p.m. The parish is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in the Grotto. In celebration of the centennial, the parish is sponsoring “Epic: A Journey through Church History,” Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. and through the school year.
St. Peter Episcopal, 3 Peabody Row, Londonderry: Centring prayer group meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. for silent prayer and contemplation. Twenty-fifth anniversary gala celebration is Sept. 15, 7-9 p.m. On Sept. 16, Bishop Gene Robinson leads the 9 a.m. service.
St. Robert Bellarmaine, 198 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Mass of the Holy Spirit for opening of school, tomorrow at 9 a.m.
Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Open house for new and prospective members, tomorrow 9 a.m. to noon. Religious school holiday happenings, an eight-week workshop for pre-kindergarten students and their parents or grandparents is Sundays, 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. or 11:15 to 12:15 p.m. Dates are: Sept. 9, 23; Nov. 18; Jan. 6, 27; Feb. 10; March 17, 31 and May 5. Program feature hands on holiday activities, arts and crafts, stories, singing and cooking. Children will learn their first Hebrew blessings. Cost is $150 for the first child; $110 for the second child and $75 for the third child. To register, contact the temple’s religious school.
Temple Emanu-El, 514 Main St., Haverhill: Open house is tomorrow at 9 a.m. To register, call 978-373-3861 or email@example.com.
West Church, 767 Broadway, Haverhill: The Alpha course will be offered beginning Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. The evening begins with supper, watching a Nicky Gumbel’s video on such topics as Christianity, Jesus and Faith, followed by discussion.
Trinity Episcopal, 26 White St., Haverhill: “Life Cycles” a program featuring worship, prayr, study, meditation and service meets Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. Dr. Frederica Harris Thompsett, professor of historical theology at Episcopal Divinity School attends the meeting.
West Parish Chapel, 129 Reservation Road, Andover: People who have loss a loved one, a job, home or a pet can sit in silence on the third Tuesdays of the month until October. Poetry, music and reflection are woven within the silence to create healing. Sponsored by Merrimack Valley Hospice. For details and registration, call 978-552-4904.